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Neonatal incubator or artificial womb? Distinguishing ectogestation and ectogenesis using the metaphysics of pregnancy

Neonatal incubator or artificial womb? Distinguishing ectogestation and ectogenesis using the metaphysics of pregnancy
Neonatal incubator or artificial womb? Distinguishing ectogestation and ectogenesis using the metaphysics of pregnancy
A 2017 Nature report was widely touted as hailing the arrival of the artificial womb. But the scientists involved claim their technology is merely an improvement in neonatal care. This raises an under considered question: what differentiates neonatal incubation from artificial womb technology? Considering the nature of gestation – or metaphysics of pregnancy – (1) identifies more profound differences between fetuses and neonates/babies than their location (in or outside the mother) alone: fetuses and neonates have a different functional physiology and different bodyparts; (2) characterizes birth as a physiological, mereological and topological transformation as well as a (morally relevant) change of location; and (3) delivers a clear distinction between incubation/ectogenesis and artificial/ecto- gestation: the former supports and replaces neonatal physiology; the latter preserves fetal physiology. This allows a detailed conceptual classification of ectogenesis technologies according to which the 2017 system is not just improved neonatal incubation, but a genuinely ecto-gestative technology. But it is not an artificial womb, which is a term that is better put to rest. The analysis also adds a third and potentially important dimension to debates in reproductive ethics: the physiological transition from fetus/gestateling to baby/neonate.
artificial womb, ectogenesis, ectogestation, ethics, fetus, gestateling, metaphysics, pregnancy
0269-9702
354-363
Kingma, Elselijn
24f1e065-3004-452c-868d-9aee3087bf63
Finn, Suki
d74d44c0-38f4-4cc7-8807-92ca56c88783
Kingma, Elselijn
24f1e065-3004-452c-868d-9aee3087bf63
Finn, Suki
d74d44c0-38f4-4cc7-8807-92ca56c88783

Kingma, Elselijn and Finn, Suki (2020) Neonatal incubator or artificial womb? Distinguishing ectogestation and ectogenesis using the metaphysics of pregnancy. Bioethics, 34 (4), 354-363. (doi:10.1111/bioe.12717).

Record type: Article

Abstract

A 2017 Nature report was widely touted as hailing the arrival of the artificial womb. But the scientists involved claim their technology is merely an improvement in neonatal care. This raises an under considered question: what differentiates neonatal incubation from artificial womb technology? Considering the nature of gestation – or metaphysics of pregnancy – (1) identifies more profound differences between fetuses and neonates/babies than their location (in or outside the mother) alone: fetuses and neonates have a different functional physiology and different bodyparts; (2) characterizes birth as a physiological, mereological and topological transformation as well as a (morally relevant) change of location; and (3) delivers a clear distinction between incubation/ectogenesis and artificial/ecto- gestation: the former supports and replaces neonatal physiology; the latter preserves fetal physiology. This allows a detailed conceptual classification of ectogenesis technologies according to which the 2017 system is not just improved neonatal incubation, but a genuinely ecto-gestative technology. But it is not an artificial womb, which is a term that is better put to rest. The analysis also adds a third and potentially important dimension to debates in reproductive ethics: the physiological transition from fetus/gestateling to baby/neonate.

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Postprint Ectogestation
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 8 November 2019
e-pub ahead of print date: 5 April 2020
Published date: May 2020
Keywords: artificial womb, ectogenesis, ectogestation, ethics, fetus, gestateling, metaphysics, pregnancy

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 439091
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/439091
ISSN: 0269-9702
PURE UUID: 1e320443-0dcf-4bc9-a3cb-1ae20125abcf

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Date deposited: 03 Apr 2020 16:30
Last modified: 25 Nov 2021 20:26

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Contributors

Author: Elselijn Kingma
Author: Suki Finn

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